The Omaha community, while large, is quite tight knit and it commonly referred to as the big city that feels like a small town. We think that is largely due to the support and kindness the citizens offer throughout the metro area.
If you’ve ever had a chance to meet Grant Mussman, you know he’s a first-class example of community support. If you haven’t met him, make it a point to. Grant is a local State Farm agent entrenched in Omaha’s civic groups, nonprofits, community programs, and professional affiliations, all for the sake of expanding his horizons, extending gratitude to a community that has wholeheartedly welcomed him, and improving the place he calls home.
A desire to help others and serve his community were a part of life for Grant from early on. His dad has been a State Farm agent in Fremont for over three decades, so Grant experienced first-hand what it meant to be there when someone is in need. He realized that through a career like his dad’s, he could make a difference in the lives of people every day.
A natural born leader, Grant found that others consistently encouraged him to be the leader in most areas of his childhood. From being 6th Trumpet to being selected Band President, to growing as a cub scout to earning the rank of Eagle Scout while growing up in Fremont, Grant has learned to use his leadership skills to benefit others. Not only can he step in and take up the task of leading others, he does it all with a clear sense of humility. “I respect everyone and the path they’re on. I haven’t walked in their shoes,” he said.
“I respect everyone and the path they’re on. I haven’t walked in their shoes.” Grant Mussman
As a man who values faith and family, Grant is active in his church and volunteers in various capacities to help where needed. He is active in the Kiwanis, involved in the Nepalese Society, and supports the local arts community contributing to the Omaha Community Playhouse and The Apollon through financial support and community promotion of their productions and special events. Hundreds of individuals each year enjoy reduced prices on tickets to concerts and theater productions because of his generosity. Grant is a fan of all types of arts from music, to theater, to multimedia, to dance. His well-rounded appreciation of the arts and civic organizations naturally leads to his commitment to supporting nonprofits and promoting their causes to help provide more awareness for them and benefits for those who need the services.
Community involvement isn’t simply a few hours of volunteer work for Grant, it’s a lifestyle and a passion. A passion that is clear and contagious. A lifestyle that is evident in everything from his family life to the way his team at State Farm interacts. His team is valued and cared for and that doesn’t come from great effort – it comes from an innate disposition. To Grant, everyone is a friend and he likes to be the first one to lend a helping hand to those in need. Recently, State Farm launched a new site, NeighborhoodOfGood.com which helps connect individuals to nonprofits in their community with which they can connect for volunteer and other supportive opportunities. It’s one more way Grant’s career intertwines with his personal values and that he can enjoy even more ways to help the community by encouraging everyone to find a cause that resonates with them to get involved with.
A lifelong learner, Grant takes opportunities to learn about the things he doesn’t have experience with and to connect with people and organizations that he can learn from and provide value to. Grant shared, “The greatest compliment someone can give me is to ask my advice about something.” His dedication to building a thriving community has already been felt among the people and organizations he has touched. Keep an eye on this one. He’s barely scratched the surface of his impact on Omaha.
“The greatest compliment someone can give me is to ask my advice about something.” Grant Mussman
Pretty in Pink: Beka Celebrates Red-Letter Anniversary
Beka Doolittle, CEO of The Pink Store, strategizes with local social media experts 316 Strategy Group.
E-commerce small business, The Pink Store, and owner Beka Doolittle’s special one-year anniversary will be a pink-letter day. In late December 2014, corporate giant Victoria’s Secret backed off on its legal opposition to the trademark for Beka’s business, The Pink Store.
Conversely, a two-year anniversary Beka would like to forget was anything but a red-letter day. Well, Code Red, maybe. Beka admits shedding tears in late December 2013 when she received a stunning demand from a Victoria’s Secret lawyer to drop the trademark on her everything-in-pink retail business. As mysteriously as the legal threat surfaced, it disappeared in the same way in 12 months’ time.
Relief For The Pink Store
“Having something of that magnitude hanging over my head for a year was a bit daunting to say the least,” said the 41-year-old Elkhorn-area resident. “Being able to walk away from that without the worry of losing all I’ve worked for has been a relief. Knowing I can continue to move forward with my company and allow it to evolve leaves me feeling thankful. It was very freeing when Victoria’s Secret relented. No money was exchanged. They dropped it as quickly as they started it. If I may say so, getting the ‘bragging rights’ is pretty cool.”
Victoria’s Secret, America’s largest lingerie retailer, petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Beka’s trademark for thepinkstore.com after she had received it in May 2013. Her business includes a wide-ranging variety of pink-colored items: from children’s tricycles to handbags, cuff links and dog accessories, but she does not sell any line of products that competes with Victoria’s Secret. She has one employee – herself.
Victoria’s Secret challenged Beka’s trademark because the mega business claimed it was concerned the trademark could cause consumers to confuse her online store with its pink-branded apparel. Victoria’s Secret Pink stores sell its Pinkbrand lingerie and loungewear, marketed to teenagers and young women. The company has more than 120 standalone Pink stores in the United States and Canada.
Many observers were impressed with Beka’s persistence and faith during her yearlong ordeal. Some even said they believed Beka’s battle with Victoria’s Secret had biblical overtones, not unlike those detailed in 1 Samuel 17, where David prevailed against Goliath in the paramount against-all-odds story of the Old Testament.
David prevailed against Goliath!
When asked how her faith helped her endure the struggle, Beka said: “The first Bible passage that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him and He will direct your path.’ I am a firm believer that everything happens at the right time and for the right reason. We don’t always see the reasons in the moment, but eventually, they will play out.”
Describing her gratitude for what many business experts called “an improbable victory,” Beka said: “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m going with an 11! But I will say this: For every experience, there’s an instrumental element of wisdom worth infinite value. I wouldn’t give up a single day of my entrepreneurial journey no matter how difficult it may seem at times. Without those experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Each and every obstacle we face or every victory we experience is a part of who we become. That is, in fact, the best life story each of us has to hand down to the next generation. It’s an amazing life circle.”
I wouldn’t give up a single day of my entreprenurial journey. ~ Beka Doolittle
In the year since Victoria’s Secret pulled out of the challenge, life has changed for Beka and her family. Beka took time away from The Pink Store so she could focus on her youngest child and husband Brad. Along the way this past year, she also married off her oldest son and became a grandma. Beka enjoyed watching two of her children tour the country with their Christian band Unscene Patrol. “It brings me great joy to know they are bringing God’s Word to people across the country. The boys are incredibly talented,” Beka said.
Omaha-area entrepreneur Joseph Kenney, a business and nonprofit consultant, as well as the founder of Christian businesses 316 Strategy Group and 316 Marketplace, has watched Beka’s saga unfold. Joe and 316 Strategy Group jumped into the fray and provided spiritual support as well as access to their business acumen. Joe and his associates savored the good times with Beka and Brad.
“I have been impressed with Beka’s attitude toward her situation,” Joe said. “She is a fun-loving person who is a bright spot on the horizon. She did not wish Victoria’s Secret any ill will nor denigrated them in any way, shape or form; she’s a very forgiving person who is full of grace.
“I can tell that she was puzzled and hurt by their actions. I also know that she is a fighter – she’s spunky. She absolutely loves what she’s doing. In my view, it would be difficult for anyone in her shoes if it was all taken away. She and her attorney knew that most of the time, businesses simply close down from fear when legal threats like this happen to them.”
Joe said Beka is an idea person who had dreams and never stops looking ahead – a characteristic of a natural-born entrepreneur. One vision is to keep her online store, which continues to reach consumers nationally while adding a local warehouse for fulfillment and a small storefront for local pink lovers.
Joe said despair had never set in for Beka and her family, and she knew whatever happened would be part of God’s plan. “She was fine with that,” Joe said, “and you can’t help but admire her deep faith in God and His will.”
You can’t help but admire her deep faith in God and His will. ~ Joseph Kenney
During one of their summer meetings, a severe weather watch was posted for the Omaha area, and Beka commented that she needed to shave her legs and paint her toes pink before any potential storm arrived. “I asked why, and she said she simply wanted to be ready for heaven ‘if tonight’s the night,’ ” Joe said with a laugh.
Beka and The Pink Store praised Joe and 316Marketplace.com for coming to her aid. “Ah, yes,” Beka said, “316Marketplace.com has been invaluable. Having their mentorship is by far more than I expected or could have asked for. As a result, my focus is getting better each day because of this team effort. I simply cannot say enough good things and I cannot express enough gratitude for the time invested into my company as well as my personal journey. The vested interest is truly a work of God and I’m blessed to be part of the 316 family!”
For more information about The Pink Store, contact owner Beka Doolittle at (402) 740-6891 or toll-free at (877) 991-PINK. Check out the business website at www.thepinkstore.com. For more information about how 316marketplace.com can help your business or entrepreneurefforts, visit http://316marketplace.com/ or call (402) 415-9842 or stop by our offices at 17117 Burt Street, Omaha, Nebraska, in the Nebraska Realty building.
Christian Artist Connects With The Faith Driven Community
By, Brian Lahm
By day, Christopher Slater works as a successful marketing and business strategy consultant with 316 Strategy Group. At night and on the weekends, he heads to the garage workshop of his west Omaha home and carefully handcrafts various sizes and shapes of crosses, a symbolic reminder of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the intersection of God’s love and His justice. Christopher’s creations are extraordinary because they are personal keepsakes for friends, family and customers who seek his handmade works of art.
Above the workbench where he shapes the metal with a hammer and grinder, one of his favorite verses is written on the wall;
“As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
It’s an appropriate Scripture for a Christian who works with copper, wood and other various materials to create the unique crosses. “At 316, we surround ourselves with iron every day in the business world, and encourage others to do the same. At home, my family and friends are my iron.”
Christopher often adds a well-thought-out Scripture or prayer and attaches it to the crosses that he creates. “I almost always have made the crosses with the specific person in mind. They are individual projects, labors of love. I’ve given them as Christmas gifts and for special occasions. With almost every cross, the Bible verse or prayer that I have included is appropriate for the particular person and illustrates the relationship we have,” he said. For customers who buy his pieces, he encourages them to do the same.
“Faith permeates every aspect of my life, whether it’s the purposeful work of 316 Strategy Group, or in my personal life. I can’t express how much it lifts me when our kids build on the foundation of faith at home and seek the Word on their own,” he said.
Daughter Autumn, 18, is a sophomore psychology major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and participates in a weekly college Bible study. Son Bennett, 15, is a sophomore in high school and is an active member of his school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “We are so fortunate to have a community of spiritual leaders in our schools to continue to build on the foundation we have laid at home,” Christopher said.
“My wife, Tacy, and I have come to understand as parents that our children are actually guiding us once they reach a certain age, and to see them independently building on the values that we have at home is a reward that can’t be matched.”
Christopher added, “I am so pleased that the kids have found beauty and meaning in these crosses. For Bennett, working on these crosses gives me an opportunity to teach some skills and serves as a wonderful bonding experience. He is a great shop apprentice and has spent many hours in the hot sun breaking down reclaimed materials. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.”
Christopher’s inspiration for spiritual creation might have had its beginning nearly 30 years ago during a retreat for seniors at Council Bluffs St. Albert High School when he received a necklace with a cross made of nails. “It still hangs in our home because it made an impression on me. There is a beautiful simplicity in the necklace, and it is impossible to look at any cross without being reminded of its meaning, of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for all of us. It is a symbol of faith, sacrifice and redemption” he said.
Christopher had no formal training from which to draw for his spiritual creations, but he has uncovered a passion that has caught the eye of a number of people. “I took a shop class as a sophomore at St. Albert High School, and I probably ended up with a C on most projects,” Christopher humbly said with a laugh. “I am not a master woodworker by any means; I am rudimentary at best. I am just getting used to the thought that people consider what I do to be art.” The designs are simple yet creative. “Each piece is unique, and I particularly enjoy integrating the metals with the wood.”
While his work-space has an arsenal of tools, Christopher primarily uses a hammer, a grinder and a table saw to make his beautiful pieces. “A friend who is a plumber saves a bucket of scrap copper periodically and brings it to me in exchange for lunch.” A favorite lunch spot just happens to be Stories Coffeehouse at 180th and Pacific Streets, where evidence of faith is tucked throughout the restaurant. “He normally would take the metal to the scrap yard,” Christopher explained. “I love the patina of the old copper. Once it is hammered out and buffed in a certain manner, the patina blends beautifully with the newly polished high spots.”
“I use reclaimed wood and other old materials. I am a collector and saver of things. I tend to favor discarded barn wood and pallet wood. With pallet wood, you never know what you are going to get. There might be pine, oak, hickory … just about anything. It can be quite beautiful to work with. I rarely throw anything away. I keep the scrap pieces as well while I am making a cross, and that otherwise discarded piece goes into a crate because I never know if it might be used later. In my mind’s eye, I fit some of the loose, disjointed pieces together into one unified piece. Like a puzzle, there are certain pieces that just belong together. Everything is done with an intention.”
The first few crosses were completely done by hand. Christopher did not use a table saw or nail gun, and they were made with salvaged barn wood and slotted screws from a home built nearly 110 years ago. All of the crosses have been uniquely different pieces that somehow come out of an inspiration Christopher cannot fully explain. Some have metal in them, and some do not. Some are made up of different kinds of woods. He crafted a cross with a horseshoe on it for his father-in-law, who has a special love for horses.
“I feel as though I have been guided to create, and have always done so in some fashion. The crosses are a form of faithful expression. They have meaning to me and there is a part of me in each and every one,” Christopher said. “I could use ‘passion,’ but I think that might be a word that’s overused. It is a true joy to express myself, and it is a blessing to me that others appreciate the crosses as much as I do.”
Christopher has handcrafted more than 20 crosses. Many of those who know him have asked if the handy work might not turn out to be more than an avocation that takes place in a relatively small workspace near 180th and Harney Streets. “I call it ‘my space.’ It’s not an art studio – that’s for sure – although I’d love to have something like that someday,” Christopher said. Tacy has been so gracious in allowing my space, because it often spills over to more area than I intend it to. It’s surely not easy living with all of the sawdust, metal shavings and noise, but despite those things, she continually inspires and encourages me. I am surely blessed.
“I will continue to create if it feels like a joy and as long as I feel the spirit running through me to do it. It is spiritual, absolutely, for me. I feel privileged to do it, and oddly enough, I get emotional when others see the beauty and it touches them in ways I may never know. It means a lot to me to know something I have created finds a home and has a meaning to someone else.”
Asked if the cross-making will bloom into a business, Christopher said: “The bottom line is that I am encouraged by the fact that people find meaning in the crosses. They are all such personal things. I’d be happy to see them in boutiques or specialty design and decor spaces, but until then I will continue to sell them on my own.
“It is my hope that the crosses will bring joy to those who receive them for years to come and perhaps be a small part of their own expression of faith. Even with the crosses that have not been made for any specific person, I say a prayer over them that the recipient finds peace and comfort whenever they see it. Maybe through the power of God, they will be an instrument that somehow has an impact, as small as it may be, on someone’s life.”
To reach Christopher Slater about requesting or purchasing a cross, call 402-881-2811, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Through a tremendous amount of hard work, good will and prayer, Jason and Michelle Hurt founded Chariots 4 Hope while seeking to make an impact on behalf of those in need in the Omaha/Metro area. The not-for-profit restores vehicles and provides them to individuals who may have fallen on hard times, or who have otherwise been through insufferable circumstances. For such individuals and families, reliable transportation is often one of the most important pieces of the puzzle as they are working so hard to put their lives back together. The organization’s goal is for everyone to own reliable transportation that allows them to maintain independence and to be self sufficient in their communities..
Answering A Call To Serve Others
The Hurts are doing far more than restoring cars through Chariots 4 Hope…They are restoring lives, and are answering a calling to serve others. Originally from St. Louis, the Hurts moved from Long Island to Omaha nearly two years ago, and have wasted little time in making an impact on the Omaha/Metro. Successful business owners, they share a passion for serving the Lord, and in turn, their new community. Jason and Michelle, never ones to shield their faith, have founded Chariots 4 Hope on four Core Values; Faith, Honesty, Stewardship and Family. They both exude a remarkable passion for helping others and have partnered with local organizations that do the same, such as the Open Door Mission, Rejuvenating Women and the Cross Training Center. It is through these organizations that candidates are presented to Chariots 4 Hope. Choosing one person at a time, or even a few, is so very difficult. This is why the Hurts aspire to grow the organization to a point that they are able to keep up the with demand. Jason stated very matter-of-factly “We plan to be in a position to where we can provide gifts of reliable vehicles to 10 to 15 people each month… or more…”. “It is a ministry…” Michelle added. “…to learn what many of these families have been through is heartbreaking, and we are blessed to have the ability to help”.
Chariots 4 Hope Delivers First Gift
Chariots 4 Hope’s first gift was a 2003 Ford Escape, which was delivered to April Baker, a single mother with a three year old son. April was taken completely by surprise on October 20th as the Hurts delivered the vehicle to her, complete with a giant bow on the hood. Until this amazing gift had been delivered, April had been without transportation, and without a trusted support system around her, she had very little options. As a sex trafficking survivor, April has been working to rebuild a foundation for she and her son and described the gift from Chariots 4 Hope as “…a blessing from God…”. April further explained that she had never felt worthy of good things in life, particularly from people she did not even know. “…I feel like I’m on my way to feeling normal again..” she added.
Julie Schrader, of Rejuvenating women had nominated April to Chariots 4 Hope. “Jason and Michelle are truly two of the most compassionate and honest people I have met. They have a passion and desire to do Christ’s work and to help others in need…” Shrader said. “My hope is that people and even dealerships will donate vehicles and funds to help them with this amazing ministry that God has given to them… this is a fantastic organization.” Chariots 4 Hope is definitely a bright spot within the Omaha Town Square.
Chariots 4 Hope is seeking community partners to help further their mission, whether it may be mechanics, repair shops, auto dealers or individuals who would like to help. You can contactChariots 4 Hope at 402-516-8302, or at email@example.com. For more information, you can also visit their website at www.Chariots4Hope.org, where you can also find links to make donations.
Secret Business Admirer Helps Family-Run Cupcake Bakery
By Annemarie Burton
It was a typical Friday morning at Mockingbird Cupcakes, a specialty cupcake bakery in west Omaha run by twin sisters Sarah Alsup and Rachael Henderson. The smell of baking cupcakes wafted through the air, mixers whirred in the kitchen, and freshly frosted cupcakes glistened through the glass display.
Then something unexpected happened at the bakery.
Three men walked into the bakery and presented co-owner Alsup with a gift bag containing a child-size t-shirt. On the front was a stick drawing her five-year-old son Christopher had made. On the back was a digitally transformed version of his drawing: a cupcake creature wearing an apron with the Mockingbird Cupcakes logo on it.
“To see my youngest son’s artwork displayed on a t-shirt moved me almost instantly to tears,” Alsup said.
One of the men identified himself as Joseph Kenney, of 316 Marketplace, a marketing company that connects faith-based consumers with like-minded businesses. Kenney explained that he and his team had been providing free marketing services to Mockingbird Cupcakes for a year without notifying them. They believed their work had generated several thousand dollars for the company.
“I was overcome with emotion,” Alsup recalled later. “I walked over to Joe to give him a hug, thanking him for his generosity. Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
During regular visits to the bakery, Kenney sampled many cupcakes, which he highly recommends. “You can tell they use real ingredients,” he said. “No box mixes here.”
Kenney also observed the sisters’ “unwavering work ethic and Christ-like mentality” when interacting with the public, their employees and each other. “They are Christ-centered people who are wonderful but unafraid to show their imperfections,” he said. “They’re real people. And so are their cupcakes.”
When he heard the bakery was struggling to build its customer base in a saturated market, he wanted to help.
“316 is dedicated to revealing the unique character attributes of faith-driven businesses in the community,” Kenney said. “We are also committed to using our resources, when manageable, to provide services to those businesses who need a little helping hand. Often we do this unsolicited and we never meet.”
Secretly 316 Marketplace expanded Mockingbird Cupcakes’ digital presence online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online reviews. They included the company in their online directories, which are valued at over $1,000, to drive more customers to the small local business.
Alsup and Henderson started to notice positive reviews on their social media accounts. “Conversations about Mockingbird were taking place in the digital sphere,” Alsup said, “and we couldn’t identify the catalyst of this welcomed publicity!”
The dream of operating their own bakery came true when the two stay-at-home-moms opened Mockingbird Cupcakes in 2013. They specialize in made-from-scratch cupcakes, cakes and pies and also offer catering and decorating parties. Their diverse menu, posted on their website, includes cupcakes called Breakfast in Bed, Razzamataz, Pink Bubbly, and Tequila Mockingbird, as well as seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Pie.
While savoring an Almond Sweetie cupcake one day, Kenney saw Christopher’s stick drawing hanging on the menu board and snapped a picture of it with his phone. That’s when he got the idea to collaborate with Creatureland Studio, a local design company that transforms children’s artwork into imaginative digital prints, and reveal his secret marketing work to Alsup and Henderson.
Using the photo, Martin Bruckner, owner of Creatureland Studio, created the cupcake character, calling it a “mustachioed, attitude-filled little pastry.” In addition to the t-shirt, Bruckner presented the sisters with a framed copy of the character print and a certificate of authenticity.
“Both women were so very gracious and thankful,” Bruckner said. “It was truly a priceless experience for me, and I felt that I had instantly gained two friends that will last a lifetime.”
Aaron Kessler, photographer and owner of Candlefire Films, was also invited to this supportive gathering of local businesses. Candlefire Films produces feature-length films and offers video and photography services for Omaha businesses. Kessler photographed the encounter at no cost and was impressed by the “Omaha spirit of collaboration” he witnessed.
“Both Creatureland and 316 sell these services to keep their businesses running,” Kessler said, “but for Mockingbird Cupcakes, they offered them completely for free, touching the hearts of owners Sarah and Rachael.”
Creatureland Studio and Candlefire Films have both worked with 316 Marketplace to enhance their marketing strategies, but this time they were the ones paying it forward for this unique bakery in Omaha.
“The generosity of both Joe and Marty to do this for someone they don’t even know is phenomenal,” Alsup said. “The experience was truly magical. I truly believe the Holy Spirit was present in our exchange.”
Henderson also expressed gratitude for Kenney and his “almost unbelievable acts of kindness” that have helped them realize their dream. She said she appreciates the small business collaboration shown by 316 Marketplace, Creatureland Studio and Candlefire Films.
“Meeting Joe, Marty and Aaron made us feel a part of something,” Henderson said. “A club of entrepreneurs who only want each other to succeed. This feeling makes coming in at 6:00 a.m. to bake the cupcakes easier.”
We encourage everyone in the #Omaha area to prayerfully consider stopping in to the bakery for a cupcake. Don’t forget to introduce yourself to Sarah and Rachael. You won’t be disappointed. You will be treated with dignity and respect. They make incredible cupcakes!
Bakery Address: 17306 Lakeside Hills Plaza, Omaha, NE 68130
We recently discovered a new tool for entrepreneurs. We reached out to Justin Grounds, founder of The Entrepreneur Map (EM), and learned how this easy to use tool can help #Christian entrepreneurs everywhere! What is The Entrepreneur Map? It is a Google Maps / geo location based website application that provides free advertising and promotional tools for individuals, small businesses and entrepreneurs everywhere. The Entrepreneur Map is not listed as a Christian based business but we thought the promotional value of this free tool was too great not to report on.
Grounds explained, their current marketing process is this, when someone registers on the EM, they actively promote the EM in their specific geo location using social media marketing. This attracts other entrepreneurs, individuals and business owners residing in their location to visit the EM and view the new member’s information, promotional video and or banner, as well as other members in the web visitor’s location, and also to possibly register themselves. This increases the value for the members by attracting potential clients and contacts for the new member’s products and services.
If you have an intro, demo, or promotional video – it will be featured and all visitors within a 30 MILE RADIUS of your location will view it – and it’s FREE! ~ Justin Grounds
We thought the Entrepreneur Map was a great opportunity for #Christian entrepreneurs to connect with like-minded customers across the globe. 316Marketplace.Com has witnessed the team at EM promoting businesses on all the major social media. This constant promotion provides much needed juice to fuel to direct traffic to these courageous entrepreneurs.
Going forward, in order to gain real internet traction and get the Entrepreneur Map name and services out there to be found by the millions of bootstrapping individuals and small businesses that would benefit from the free services that the EM offers, they will no doubt need to generate a paid advertising and admin budget.
Justin and his team wish to keep the EM services free for all who see the value of jumping on and becoming members. After all, it is mainly targeted at those who are endeavoring to build a business for themselves and their families in difficult economic times.
Do you have a partnership idea or a sponsorship offer for Entrepreneurial Map? Grounds remains open to ideas and opportunities and is focused on growing the scope and reach of the Entrepreneur Map.
We encourage #Christian business owners to prayerfully consider tools like the Entrepreneur Map or a local #ChristianBusinessDirectory like www.316Marketplace.Com. We pray that God may continue to richly bless Justin’s entrepreneurial endeavor and look forward to updates in the near future.
Your pastor has greater influence over you than your Christian CEO, right?
Not so fast. Take a minute to consider how little time Americans spend with their pastors. Those attending church in America spend an average of 15 minutes or less listening to weekly sermons. Conversely, the average American working in corporate America is under the influence of his Christian CEO in excess of 45 hours per week. Christian business leaders are highly influential in the marketplace. According to Crown Business, less than 20% of Americans attend church services regularly but over 60% of Americans are employed and go to work each day. CEOs have a tremendous opportunity to lead by example and evangelize in the marketplace. Their influence on non-believers is significant, American businesses employ a
diverse cross section of faiths and backgrounds. Kingdom businesses exhibit far more influence on the daily lives of non-believers than a typical pastor does his flock. Christian CEOS are responsible for creating company culture, setting company policies, sourcing vendors, signing checks, hiring team members and developing a company mission. Take a minute out of your workday to thank your CEO for their Christian leadership.
Christian Business Owners find inspiration in scripture. Jeremiah 29:11 provides a dose of encouragement for your work day.
Many of us who operate small businesses can feel overwhelmed and it’s easy to let despair take root. Despair, not a fruit of the Lord, sets in when Christian entrepreneurs are tired, become too busy and…forget to pray.
As lay people Christian business owners are called to evangelize in the marketplace. Running your small business is a spiritual journey more than it is anything else. The Christian business owner is challenged, tested, and attacked on a daily basis. It’s important we set time aside for prayer and reflection on scripture. Jeremiah 29:11 provides the spiritual nourishment needed to keep despair at bay. When you read it, you will feel encouraged.
As lay people Christian business owners are called to evangelize in the marketplace.
In order to have a successful business, you must trust in the Lord. God’s will is what is best for you and your Christian business. There will be times you will be frustrated and ready to give up. There will be times you don’t understand why things are happening in your business, but God is always trying to teach and protect us. Having faith in God requires you having faith in His timing!
Take a moment out of each business day to reflect on Jeremiah 29:11. This verse will serve you well personally and professionally. Fellowship with other courageous witnesses in the marketplace.
Do you want to be part of a vibrant social network platform perfectly suited for your Christian business? The Google + platform should be considered now!
There has been much written about Facebook and Twitter this past couple of years. So much so, that it is has bee hard to keep up! The sheer size of Facebook and its global usage is mind boggling. The growth of Twitter is on a blistering pace. The Christian business owner scrambles to keep up with all of the updates, changes and policies.
While you were listening to these two social network titans saber rattle there was a social network quietly sneaking up! Did you know Google + boasts over 300 million active users and recently took over the second largest social network online! Are you shocked?
The 316 team predicted this in March of 2013. Our team strongly believed Google + would become a vibrant force in social networking for Christian businesses!
In the last few days many in the Google + world have been concerned about the recent departure of Vic Gundotra who was the driving force behind the Google + platform. We don’t believe there is reason for concern. Google has invested far too much money into this platform to let it die on the vine. They have a solid team in place. Don’t spend any time worrying about the future of this dynamic social platform.
As a Christian business owner, you are wondering if you even need Google +! Right? If you’re promoting yourself on Facebook and Twitter, do you really need to be on Google+? The quickest answer is, absolutely! Christian business owners need to carve out time to learn more about this dynamic platform that indexes quicker, offers greater flexibility, doesn’t limit your content, integrates the world’s largest video platform and gives you the tools to accurately target posts to colleagues and faith driven consumers throughout the world.
Take a moment to consider the following this morning:
Posts on Google + Are Indexed Quickly
We’ve preached this for a year now with our Christian businesses. While it may not seem fair when thinking about how posts on Facebook or Twitter are indexed, this is Google! Take a moment to consider this from Google’s vantage point. Why wouldn’t they give a special nod to those using their own social platform? As a Christian business owner, it’s important you not only utilize the G+ platform but create a YouTube channel. We’ve found the Christian business owner stands to benefit greatly from using the world’s largest video platform. The bottom line is you can give yourself a significant leap in search results! The beast that is the Google search engine looks at your entire body of work. If the Christian business owner is being seen everywhere on its own network, then it stands to reason they will pay more attention, index you more quickly and pass this valuable information on to those searching for your Christian business!
Hangouts on Air Gaining Users Earning Huge Advantages!
This may take a leap of faith for some of you reading this. Take our word. It’s worth the effort to test out Google hangouts and hangouts on air. Most computers today are well equipped and you can get started immediately. A Google + account and a webcam are all that’s needed to begin live streaming video business meetings with multiple people across the globe. You’ve instantly given yourself the opportunity to work globally from the comfort of your own home or office. These hangouts can be hosted on G+, YouTube or even your own business website. These hangouts can be recorded for private or public viewing. You are only limited to your own creativity! We would love to hear how Google hangouts can help you connect and synergize with other Christian business leaders!
Intentional Targeting with Google+
Google + created Circles so you can effectively market your products, services and posts effectively. They really want you in the driver’s seat. You are given the opportunity to create folders with names on them. Google refers to these folders as “Circles” and it gives you the opportunity to directly market these posts to specific individuals or groups. Those listed in your circles will never know which circle they have been placed in and for what reason.
Google + has been misunderstood by many Christian business owners in the past. Yes, it is radically different than Facebook or Twitter. Take the time to learn how best to you this dynamic platform in your Christian business. Google will continue to invest the money necessary to add services and improve the experience for the Christian business owner.
Every business owner wants to build a community around their brand. Here are three quick tips to help you lay the foundation.
Build a Targeted Christian Community
The first building block is to build a community of brothers and sisters in Christ who deeply care about who you are and what your company is offering.
Set all of the social media noise aside for just a minute. Do you have a group of people that care about you? Friends? Family members? Church members? Colleagues? Net working groups? If you answered yes to any of these then you have a starting point. Once you have a starting point, you can start building your audience on one or several of the social media platforms.
You must be realistic, though. You can’t do everything! Taking a shotgun approach and trying to quickly build a large, robust social media community across multiple social platforms won’t be helpful. In fact, you will quickly find yourself discouraged. A more effective approach for the Christian entrepreneur is to build a targeted community. How do you build out a targeted Christian community?
The 316 team believes you start to build a robust community through organic techniques. You must write authentic and useful content that is perfectly suited for the audience you wish to reach. One of the first exercises we recommend is creating a top 100 list of questions your customers have about your product or service. Answering these questions is the lifeblood for connecting with your customer base. If you consistently connect with your audience with useful information, you will build brand awareness. You will naturally attract this audience to your brand. Be sure to identify the key influencers in your audience. Be sure to leverage these relationships when appropriate.
The second step is often under utilized and a key to a successful social media foundation. The establishment of team captains is critical for a successful campaign launch. These are friends, church leaders, pastors, colleagues or family members that are well connected in various market segments. Most importantly they are passionate about you and what you are doing!
For purposes of this article we will use 316Marketplace as an example to follow:
1. Ask your captains to get social with your primary social media platforms. Choose one or two social media outlets to focus on. In this example, we will use Facebook and Twitter as the primary social media platforms. Be sure to spell it all out for the captains.
“Like” 316marketplace.com on Facebook and “follow” @316Marketplace on Twitter
2. Request your team captains engage with online groups that are like minded in faith and beliefs.
Did you know that you can engage with other Christian fan pages and make a significant impact on 316Marketplace.com? This is a great way to build brand awareness among like-minded Christian companies and their followers. Simple acts of “liking” a Facebook post and making positive comments about 316Marketplace.com can really have a ripple effect!
Sample comment: “Your coffee looks amazing! Thank you Lifeboat Coffee for providing amazing coffee that is #prolife.
3. Utilize #hashtags
Hash-tags (the pound sign #) are universally used on Twitter and are now gaining popularity on Facebook and Google +. They are not only good for searches, they also help target your audience and can lead to more re tweets. For example, if you post a comment about 316Marketplace.com and add the hash-tag #christianbusiness, then anyone looking for resources or information on Christian business has a greater chance of finding yours and re tweeting it or even better contacting 316Marketplace.com and placing an order!
The more targeted and accurate your hash-tag use, the more targeted followers you’re likely going to pull towards 316marketplace.com! Be sure to leverage hash-tags when appropriate so all your content is categorized correctly and easy to search for later.
Here are acceptable #hashtags to use when discussing or commenting about 316marketplace on Twitter, Facebook or Google +:
#4 JUMP IN ON TRENDING TOPICS IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLD
When you visit your home page on twitter, there is a box with “trending topics.” Take a moment to see what is trending. Then, if at all possible join into the conversation on a trending topic. To do this, include the trending topic as a hash-tag in your tweet. You can also check commonly used #hashtags with the search tool in the upper right hand corner of Twitter.
Engagement is the key to building a strong digital presence!
It is important to keep it social. Thus, when you write a post, tag others and add a personal reason why you thought they’d like it.
Example: I can tell you are passionate about #christianbusiness and thought you would appreciate knowing about 316 Marketplace. Check them out at 316marketplace.com.
This technique gets your post on their wall and it increases the likelihood that they will respond in kind and better yet, re tweet the post to their Christian network! The search will pull up the most recent conversations or tweets that have utilized #christianbusiness. Each of these tweets and conversations are perfect opportunities to engage, inform and educate other Christian business advocates about the mission of 316Marketplace.com! Simply “like” with a “reply” about 316!
#5 Share 316marketplace.com Web-site, Facebook/Twitter pages through your websites and blogs.
Many of your captains will have personal & business websites or have a personal contacts in their networks who doe. These resources are extremely valuable to the creation of a solid social media presence in the digital marketplace. Don’t be shy. Go ahead and ask your captains to do the following:
1. Include a 316marketplace.com link on your web-site
2. Write an article about 316 on your blog
3. Include links to the 316Marketplace Facebook, & Twitter pages on your web-site
4. Include a banner ad on your web-site when appropriate
Paid Advertising or Community-Building
Paid advertising is the third step to building a solid foundation. Community-building via paid advertising is traditionally much faster than its organic counterpart if you have a budget that allows for it. It’s important to note this audience doesn’t know you and isn’t emotionally or personally invested in you. Paid advertising is necessary for a successful community build.
The primary social media platform (Facebook and Twitter) provide excellent opportunities to really drill down and target the Christian audience you are seeking. By leveraging these paid advertising resources, your growth can sky-rocket. Your Christian community will grow significantly in the weeks and months ahead. We recommend starting with Facebook ads to help build a targeted faith based community. Facebook has an easy to use advertising program.
Community Building Takes Time
Building a faith based community seeking Christian resources, products and services does take time. We strongly urge you to build a community anchored by: focusing on delivering high quality content, be useful to your audience, and deliver the information in a manner that will keep them engaged!